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St. Louis at Cincinnati

St. Louis
W: T. Coffey (2-0) L: B. Falkenborg (0-1)
HR: STL - J. Encarnacion (4)   CIN - A. Dunn (10), E. Encarnacion (4)

Reds stay hot, whip Cardinals to run start to 19-8

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports

CINCINNATI -- Javier Valentin watched the ball leave his bat and fly right toward second baseman Aaron Miles, giving the pinch-hitter a momentary fright.

The way the Cincinnati Reds are playing, he should have known better.

Valentin's liner cleared the drawn-in infield and drove in the winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning Tuesday, sending the Reds to a 3-2 victory and a two-game sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals.

"It was going straight to the second baseman," Valentin said, amazed by what had happened. "Then it went like this."

Valentin made a curve with his hand, simulating the way the ball dodged Miles' glove by mere inches before landing safely on the outfield grass.

"It found a hole," Valentin said. "It's good enough for me."

Adam Dunn and Edwin Encarnacion added solo homers for the Reds (19-8), who overtook the defending World Series champion Chicago White Sox for best record in the majors.

"We can play with anybody," Valentin said. "If we continue to play the way we're playing now, we're going to be there."

He meant the playoffs, of course, a place the Reds haven't been in 11 years. They haven't even had a winning record the last five years, their deepest such slump in a half-century.

It's going to take a lot more to get them back to the postseason -- the rotation is still a concern, and the bullpen is still inconsistent. But by taking two of three from the Astros and then the two-game series from St. Louis, the Reds felt a little confidence coming on.

"When you face the two best teams in the division, it means a lot to win four out of five," manager Jerry Narron said.

Austin Kearns started the winning rally with a leadoff single off Brian Falkenborg (0-1), who was called up from Triple-A Memphis before the game. The right-hander hit Brandon Phillips with his next pitch.

After Jason LaRue's sacrifice bunt advanced the runners, Valentin took two pitches in the dirt, then lined the game-ending single, raising his fist as he headed for first. Teammates pounded on him shortly after he touched the base.

Todd Coffey (2-0) struck out John Gall with two runners aboard in the ninth to keep it tied at 2-2.

The Cardinals' starting lineup was missing Albert Pujols and Jim Edmonds. Pujols, who leads the majors with 14 homers and 32 RBI, irritated his back on a defensive play last week and got a day of rest -- his first this season.

Edmonds missed four starts last month because of a sore shoulder and hasn't done much at the plate. He pinch-hit in the seventh against Rick White with two runners aboard and flied out, dropping his average to .208.

The scaled-down lineup was a huge benefit for left-hander Dave Williams, who has been the Reds' least-effective starter. Williams, obtained from Pittsburgh in the offseason trade for Sean Casey, brought a gaudy 9.53 ERA into the game.

His toughest out on the Cardinals? Pujols is 7-for-19 off the left-hander with three homers.

"If he wants to take his day off the day I pitch, I'm fine with that," Williams said.

It didn't appear to matter at the outset. David Eckstein and Gall opened the game with singles, and Scott Spiezio's single made it 1-0.

Juan Encarnacion homered in the third, his third homer in three games, for a 2-0 lead. Williams then settled in and didn't give up another run in his 6 2/3 innings.

Right-hander Sidney Ponson blanked the NL's highest-scoring offense -- six runs per game -- until Dunn hit a solo homer off the right-field foul screen in the sixth and Edwin Encarnacion followed with a tying homer.

It was a familiar script for Ponson, who blanked the Nationals last Thursday before giving up a pair of seventh-inning runs in a 6-2 win.

"Like I said after my last start, it's how you finish," Ponson said. "And I didn't finish good. I allowed two home runs that cost us the game."


  • The Cardinals optioned OF Skip Schumaker to Memphis.
  • C Yadier Molina snapped an 0-for-16 slump with a sixth-inning single.
  • Molina also picked Ryan Freel off first base. He has picked four Reds off first base in the last two seasons.
  • The Reds put OF Cody Ross on the 15-day DL with a bruised finger. OF Chris Denorfia was called up from Triple-A Louisville.
  • Ken Griffey Jr. will stay in Cincinnati while the Reds travel to Colorado for a two-game series. He's eligible to come off the disabled list, but hasn't fully recovered from an inflamed tendon behind his right knee.
Copyright 2017 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
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Reds players celebrate with Javier Valentin after his game winner in the bottom of the ninth.  (AP)
Reds players celebrate with Javier Valentin after his game winner in the bottom of the ninth. (AP)

Players of the Game

J. Valentin
AB 1
R 0
H 1
HR 0
St. Louis

J. Encarnacion
AB 4
R 1
H 1
HR 1

Related Video

St. Louis Cardinals
David Eckstein, SS4120001
John Gall, LF-1B5010034
Hector Luna, 3B2010102
   a- Jim Edmonds, PH-1B^CF1000002
Juan Encarnacion, RF4111003
Scott Spiezio, 1B-3B4011000
So Taguchi, CF4000002
    Brian Falkenborg, P0000000
Yadier Molina, C3010100
Aaron Miles, 2B4020002
Sidney Ponson, P1000001
   b- Jason Marquis, PH0000000
    Braden Looper, P0000000
    Randy Flores, P0000000
    John Rodriguez, LF1010000
a-flied out for Luna in the 7th
b-hit a sacrifice bunt for Ponson in the 7th
HR - Juan Encarnacion (, D. Williams)
SH - Sidney Ponson (), Jason Marquis ()
RBI - Juan Encarnacion (), Scott Spiezio ()
2-OUT RBI - Juan Encarnacion (), Scott Spiezio ()
CS - Hector Luna (, 2nd base by D. Williams/LaRue), Yadier Molina (, 2nd base by D. Williams/LaRue)
Team LOB - 9
St. Louis Cardinals
Sidney Ponson 6622222
Braden Looper 0.2100000
Randy Flores 1000110
Brian Falkenborg (L,-) 0.2211000
HBP - B. Phillips (by Brian Falkenborg)
Pitches-Strikes - Sidney Ponson 90-59, Braden Looper 5-4, Randy Flores 20-12, Brian Falkenborg 15-8
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Sidney Ponson 7-8, Braden Looper 2-0, Brian Falkenborg 1-0
Batters Faced - Sidney Ponson 25, Braden Looper 3, Randy Flores 4, Brian Falkenborg 4
Cincinnati Reds
Ryan Freel, CF4010002
Felipe Lopez, SS4000013
Adam Dunn, LF4111000
Edwin Encarnacion, 3B3121110
Scott Hatteberg, 1B2000211
Austin Kearns, RF4120004
Brandon Phillips, 2B3000004
Jason LaRue, C3010000
Dave Williams, P2010000
    Rick White, P0000000
   a- Quinton McCracken, PH0000000
    Todd Coffey, P0000000
   b- Javier Valentin, PH1011000
a-hit a sacrifice bunt for White in the 7th
b-singled for Coffey in the 9th
HR - Adam Dunn (, Ponson), Edwin Encarnacion (, Ponson)
SH - Jason LaRue (), Quinton McCracken ()
RBI - Adam Dunn (), Edwin Encarnacion (), Javier Valentin ()
CS - Edwin Encarnacion (, 2nd base by Falkenborg/Molina)
PK - Ryan Freel (, Ponson)
Team LOB - 8
Cincinnati Reds
Dave Williams 6.2822221
Rick White 0.1000000
Todd Coffey (W,-) 2200010
HBP - Eckstein (by Dave Williams)
Pitches-Strikes - Dave Williams 99-62, Rick White 6-4, Todd Coffey 29-18
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Dave Williams 11-5, Todd Coffey 3-2
Batters Faced - Dave Williams 29, Rick White 1, Todd Coffey 8
Game Information
Attendance - 25133
Game Time - 2:35
Temperature - 68
Umpires - Home - Larry Poncino, First Base - Bruce Dreckman, Second Base - Adam Dowdy, Third Base - Gary Darling